VDW, the German Machine Tool Builders' Association, reports it took a minority stake in Munich-based Spanflug Technologies GmbH, a tech start-up that automates quotation and parts-procurement processes for manufacturers. "The VDW enjoys excellent links throughout our industry, and we are delighted it has come on board," stated Spanflug founder Dr. Markus Westermeier. "Both sides were interested in establishing a close, long-term cooperation beyond the purely consultative.”
The value and other terms of the investment were not announced, nor was VDW’s ownership percentage. VDW noted the agreement was completed in November 2020.
VDW’s participation will allow Spanflug Technologies to ramp up the development of its platform technology and significantly expand it by involving machine tool manufacturers. "The VDW brings extensive industry knowledge to the table and is thus the ideal partner for us here,” according to Westermeier.
Spanflug Technologies has been operating since 2018 and was spun off from the Institute for Machine Tools and Industrial Management at the Technical University of Munich. It provides two products for automating quotation and procurement processes: 1) a platform on which customers can interact with suppliers and process their orders; and 2) software which suppliers can use to generate their offers automatically and quickly.
The Spanflug platform specializes in CNC turned and milled parts, offering customers a fully automated procurement process from price calculation through to an online shop where orders can be placed. Customers are given the price and delivery time during inquiry itself. "Our software automatically calculates the price based on CAD models and technical drawings," explained Dr Adrian Lewis, cofounder of Spanflug. "A new price can be recalculated immediately if any changes are made to the design.
“We're currently able to calculate prices automatically for over 90% of the components on the market,” he continued. “This is based on a pricing algorithm which we developed ourselves, and which we are constantly refining in order to be able to process even more components automatically."
Spanflug claims to have more than 1,000 customers ordering components on the platform already, and prices have been calculated for more than 100,000 production parts.
A network of more than 70 manufacturing companies from Germany and Austria is already connected to the platform. "We attach great importance to this, as it ensures high quality and fast deliveries," Lewis said. The benefits for customers are that it can shorten the entire ordering process from days to a few minutes, it saves time in the search for suppliers, and it minimizes the work involved in ensuring suitable supplier quality and the outlay for communication. This reduces the ancillary costs of procurement.
“For their part, the manufacturing companies can eliminate unused capacity and make savings in sales and marketing,” Lewis added.
Spanflug's software product is also based on the platform, providing automatic price calculation for manufacturing companies to automate costing processes and generate customized quotations quickly. The developers see great potential in automated costing processes, for manufacturers and their customers.
"We enlisted the support of some of our members to evaluate the Spanflug solution and found that it leads the international competition when it comes to the analysis and cost calculation of CNC parts," stated Dr. Wilfried Schäfer, executive director of the VDW. "The stake offers great potential, not only for our member companies and their customers, but also for the mechanical and plant engineering sector as a whole in Germany. The aim is to use the Spanflug technology and its resulting efficiency gains to secure the long-term competitiveness of the German manufacturing industry."
Schäfer also noted that the investment "represents a new field of business for the VDW and thus opens a fresh chapter for us. In times of upheaval it is especially important to be expanding our portfolio as part of our efforts to remain attractive to new members."